The Week of the Young Child™ starts today with Music Monday! The #WOTYC is an annual celebration hosted by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) celebrating early learning, young children, their teachers and families. Today, we’re sharing musical reflections from Sadie Brightman, director of the Middlebury Community Music Center, mother of two young girls, and a life-long piano player and teacher.
Every child is born with musical aptitude – and a natural inclination toward music.
Just this weekend, my household hosted our first ever sleepover birthday party. Five girls celebrating our oldest turning 8 (plus little sister). It was an extremely fun night of celebration, followed by lots of grown-up coffee pouring the next morning. As I spent time with the girls, it struck me that at one point or another, each of them found their way to the piano in the corner of our living room to check it out. Either a quick pass by run of notes plunked out, or a focused 30 seconds on the latest piece in progress. The lid is always open in our house. I couldn’t help myself from casually showing up right next to them at the piano whenever I heard a few notes flying through the air, eager to stretch their time at the instrument, or just to let them know, “I hear you.” Those 88 keys are still, and will always be, my favorite playground. This started when I was a very young kid. I remember discovering the power and vastness of the piano, and I get transported back to that moment whenever I see a kid get those big focused eyes, entranced by the giant instrument.
After a lifetime of fascination with music, I am now the director of Middlebury Community Music Center (MCMC), mom of two young girls, and a piano teacher. I am passionate about the importance music education for young children, and hope to have reach as many families as possible with this message. Early musical learning has the power to propel us into a lifetime of music making, appreciating music and all art forms, enriching our lives and making us engaged citizens.
Every child is born with musical aptitude – and a natural inclination toward music. Parent and caregivers’ voices are the most important sounds, the first connection babies have to their new world. This bond through sound is the beginning of lyricism and song (even from adults who think they can’t sing!). The common myth that some kids are just born with musical gifts misses the fact that everyone has a chance to become musically literate, and to reap the benefits that musical training has to offer. Many children have minimal exposure to music during the critical early years that are prime for learning.
Singing and moving to music from a very young age awakens two essential pillars of musical learning: pitch and rhythm. These are skills that need practice and reinforcement to become stable “truths” for a young musician. This process of learning shapes our thinking as we grow, and transfers to many other areas of our lives.
Music reflects our emotions, and gives us a medium for exploring them in a productive and creative way.
A recent report just released from the National Endowment for the Arts shows how critical early arts education is to children’s social-emotional development. Music reflects our emotions, and gives us a medium for exploring them in a productive and creative way. This exploration has lasting benefits in many areas of learning. For young children, a strong social-emotional foundation leads to greater success in academics, and instills resourceful problem solving, compassionate listening, and stick-to-itiveness, among many other important attributes.
It is our mission at MCMC to provide enriching programming in music for all the ages in a supportive, community environment. I am honored to work with so many inspiring music instructors at MCMC who pass on their love of music every day to their students.
We at MCMC are glad to collaborate with the Let’s Grow Kids organization to promote the importance of these early childhood experiences, especially during this national Week of the Young Child, and especially on Music Monday! You can learn more about these initiatives at www.letsgrowkids.org, and at www.mcmcvt.org.
As our delightful 8 year old house guests reminded me this weekend, music is captivating to all of us! Let’s all remember this and prioritize musical learning over time for our kids. This can begin on day one, and carry through all of childhood and beyond.